No more cohorts: ASD hires enough drivers to fully staff buses

Updated: Nov. 23, 2022 at 12:01 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - After more than three months of bus driver shortages, the Anchorage School District will dissolve the bussing cohort system and return to fully-staffed bus service beginning Dec. 5.

In an email to parents, ASD Superintendent Jharrett Bryantt wrote that transportation services for students will be altered to become more efficient.

“We have successfully onboarded 50+ new bus drivers since the start of the school year,” Bryantt wrote. “They have answered the call and joined our team of already committed bus drivers and attendants.”

ASD recently bumped up the starting pay for drivers to $25 an hour, along with offering a signing bonus.

“The recent increase in wages will pay transportation staff more competitively for the important work they do, and will help with driver retention,” Bryantt wrote. “We arrived at our plan to end the cohort model by reimagining transportation services. A new plan will change how routes weave together a tapestry of transportation around the Anchorage bowl.”

With the new routes established, ASD was able to cut down their needed bus drivers from 228 to 204. The newly-established routes will combine routes of low ridership. At the same time, Bryantt, addressed in his email, it will cut down fuel cost.

In the email, Bryantt wrote that route numbers will change, and times for pick-up and drop-off times will also be changed for many students who ride the bus by between 10 and 20 minutes. Bryantt wrote in the email that parents would receive the new bus stop details in Parent Connect on Dec. 1.

“This reimagined bus route system is step one in our long-term efficiency transportation plan,” Bryantt wrote. “Step two is expected to launch in February 2023 with a new software system. Step three will be working with our Special Education Department to reconfigure transportation based on inclusivity. To summarize, this is our first big step towards long term transportation solutions. Remember to check Parent Connect starting next Thursday, December 1.”

Bryantt encouraged parents to visit the transportation page on the district website for more information.